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Reflections on Steve Levy’s comments on racial tolerance…

Steve Levy used the spotlight and time he had to try to deflect blame from himself; divert attention from him and the elected officials around him in Islip and Brookhaven who have been the crux of the anti-immigrant rhetoric that was a background for this crime; and to demand that no matter what kind of immigration debate he has, no one is allowed to say that he is bigoted or intolerant.

Steve Levy tried to say that the two sides are: People who would murder Hispanics vs. Everyone else in the world (who are clearly people of goodwill, because they did not murder someone in the street.)

When, in reality, the two sides are more like: Steve Levy and elected officials who use government against immigrants, and use angry rhetoric that inflame the community vs. Hispanic people, immigrant people, and immigrant advocates who want immigrants to be treated fairly and with respect all the time.

Instead of focusing on the sadness of Marcelo Lucero’s loss, or focusing on healing the community, Levy wanted to use his time, platform and power to assert that he has a right to be against “illegal immigration.” You might think that is sad to be someone who dies for the color of their skin. Or, you might think it is sad to be afraid to walk down the street because you are being harassed because of your race or immigration status. But, you should feel even more sorry for men in suits who are not allowed to express their conservative opinions about who is welcome in our culture and country. Poor, Steve Levy, him and his friends have a right to crack down on immigration, invite the federal government to do raids in our community, and use the nasty word “illegal.” And, those mean immigration advocates, standing up for the poor and disenfranchised, and trying to create just and tolerant public policy, they have no right to criticize our elected officials.

Newsday quoted from Steve Levy’s speech:

“Illegal immigration is something I and many others oppose…

“Likewise, advocates for those here illegally should not disparage those opposed to the illegal immigration policy as being bigoted or intolerant.”

Steve Levy and some of the commentators are focusing on parents who should have talked to their kids at the dinner table. That is a cop-out, because when seven people join in a crime, and when the crime revealed a pattern of a game of “beaner jumping” that other people have participated in and spoken of, it is a societal pattern. That means that politicians and leaders have led us into this state of affairs, and that politicians and leaders have allowed this state of affairs to continue, up until the time that something really ugly like this crime happens and they suddenly have to think of a new plan.

In addition, some of the reason parents experience frustration about immigrants, and talk about illegal immigration at the dinner table, is because local elected officials and local school officials make parents think that immigrants and illegal immigrants are a burden on them as far as taxes. This is the usual game of the ruling class pitting the middle class against the poor and people of color. During school tax time, the Superintendent of Patchogue Schools specifically discussed in the press that he felt burdened by having to educate students who were illegal and/or who he needed to provide English as a Second Language classes for.* And, other elected officials in the area – including Patricia Eddington – chimed in at the burden of educating illegal immigrants. If elected officials say that this group is burdening our economy, raising our taxes, and not worthy of going to school, how are parents and students to feel?

Steve Levy claims that there is: “Equal police status to all, regardless of immigration status.” But, how can that be, if Suffolk County police will help federal officials conduct raids? People are innocent until proven guilty, some people in the home might be legal, but the local police are bothering and harassing a family in their home. How will anyone in that family trust local police again?

Another time that Levy and the Legislature supported a racist bill – yes, I will say it, racist – was when they wanted to make “loitering” a crime the police could pick someone up for. That was because they wanted to address day laborers being picked up on the side of the road in Farmingville. But, instead of using the process and authority they already had to pick up the business people and homeowners who slow down in their cars, the our racist elected officials were ready to write laws that would violate all of our civil rights, so that they could focus the police on picking up the poor workers standing around waiting to get work from the business people.

Now there is a dialogue:

Nadia Marin-Molina, an immigrant advocate with the Workplace Project, Rabbi Steven Moss, the Chairman of the Suffolk County Anti-Bias Task Force and the chair of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission.

Nadia says: It has happened in Suffolk that when the immigration officials come to people’s homes for a raid, the Sufffolk County police are assisting them and knocking on doors.  If Suffolk Police cooperate to the extent of knocking on the door on behalf of immigration officials, then the Suffolk Police should understand that they will create a chasm between themselves and people they may have to encounter and serve at other times.

Lea Tyrell again gives a conservative viewpoint that sides with Levy, and uses the poisonous word “illegal” applied to a person. A person is not illegal. A person might be undocumented, but they are not illegal. Lea said a really oppressive speech about people must obey the law, and if they don’t then, basically she is asserting, that the federal government must come get them, and Suffolk County has to help if the federal government asks them. That is b.s. Especially since those raids only happen in certain places, probably because the federal government has to find local officials who are so gung ho and willing to use their resources and damage their police relationship with the community that the locals will allow those raids to happen. Steve Levy has allowed Suffolk County to be a staging ground for Republican and federal government oppression of immigrants that other localities have not allowed in their backyard. But, Lea Tyrell thinks that is okay. She should probably study the situation, and find out how deals between the feds and local governments are made, and show a study of which localities have said NO to the federal government to do such things.

A woman, Martha speaks on the phone. She says of Steve Levy “He knows he has his hands full of blood.” And, speaks about how Levy has set down a tone of intolerance. She is profound.

So, without acknowledging her comments, newsperson Lea Tyrell changes the subject, and turns again to Steve Levy’s talking points about educating parents and doing school programs. It is amazing, the amount of smiling and diversion that News12 is doing on behalf of Steve Levy. I may have to turn this off soon, it is making me sick.

Lea Tyrell is doing the thing where a white person, with perfect hair and makeup and all the accouterments of privilege, including a relaxed smile, because her life is so comfortable, hears someone speaking their pain and describing their oppression and Lea Tyrell just can’t hear. And, she uses the strategy of keeping her cheery cadence, ignoring the person of color, and changing the topic. Neat trick. It’s what keeps getting us back to the same old place.

Another time, someone talks about the serious issues and need for government officials to intervene, again Lea Tyrell changes the subject, takes the focus off the government officials, and returns to harping about about parents. She really is a pawn for Levy.

Suffolk County Legislator Vivian Viloria-Fisher calls in. She is saying profound things and challenging Steve Levy. So, Lea Tyrell cuts her off rudely for another caller. Lea Tyrell says we only have a minute, and we want to take another call. Then, she takes a call from one person, then lets Rick Brand speak again, and then another person. Surely, the Deputy Presiding Officer of the County Legislator, who is also a Latina, deserved more than a rushed phone call, when there was then time for 3 more people to speak.

Before she was rudely (though with a cheery cadence) cut off, Vivan Viloria-Fisher says how Steve Levy started off his immigration strategy with his attempt to deputize local police officers as federal immigration officials. Legislator Fisher is asking for Steve Levy and her legislator colleagues to put a moratorium on any legislation aimed at immigrants. She is saying the important things, so she got cut off.

Summary of Steve Levy’s remarks:

Bad: The 7 young men who murdered Marcelo Lucero; parents who don’t teach their children well at the dinner table; the people who have been afraid in the past to report hate crimes in Patchogue (even if they are afraid because of the intolerant police); immigration advocates who throw around words like “intolerant” when Steve Levy creates racist and anti-immigrant legislation and invites federal immigration officials into our county.

Good: Everyone who did not murder Marcelo Lucero (unless they are a negligent parent or an immigration advocate); Steve Levy and his conservative buddies who are being picked on and called intolerant; the police, who we are assured treats everyone equally, (even while News12 asserts with Steve Levy that our county government needs to send the police on raids to some of the equal people’s homes.)

Steve Levy’s full speech is at Newsday: here.

———-

Below are my notes as I listened with just a little sketched out. I will publish this and then go back and type it up more orderly momentarily:

Levy…

horrific killing of Marcelo Lucero…

prayers and people of goodwill

the killing of innocent and hard-working man is a dark and reprehensible
moment for our county

what measures…not repeated..
people during Holocaust… who did not speak up…because they could only talk to the authorities who had masterminded these authorities

but, here they could have reported to authorities that would have helped

so, the people that did not report were wrong

justice swiftly and surely

victims must never fear reporting a crime, i want to assure evrey person in suffolk county treats victims
with respect and only to catch person committing crime

attempts by some to link this crime to volatile debates that we have seen on immigration

legal immigration is a wonderful thing. it should be expanded. illegal immigration, is something myself and others oppose.

advocates for those here illegally should not portray those of us against illegal immigration as intolerant or

(Steve Levy is defending himself. people made us look bad in national media.)

listed bad incidents that happened in other places. Staten Island, etc. Diverting attention further from his county and the atmosphere that his administration has created…

elephant in room – not immigration but segregation..

he talks about racist literature distributed in Deer Park…(when it also happened in Islip, that is the way he is taking attention off him and his pack of Islip/Brookhaven officials like Jack Eddington and Pat Eddington)

“god-fearing, law-abiding residents”

hopefully his death will not be in vain, all of us, yours truly included, reflect on our faults. listen to children, make sure my words are as sensitive as possible

let’s continue to have policy debates (without attacking each other)

documented status

walking down a public street without fearing

hard lines not between people who stand on different side of immigration debate, but those who would kill Lucero and those of good will

fight for what is morally right, oppose intimidation and physical violence.

thank you and “god bless”

——-

Background:

*From an article in Suffolk Life Newspapers:

Illegal Immigration: The Cost for School Districts
Suffolk Life
By: Michelle Pirraglia
February 21, 2007


Re: Patchogue-Medford Superintendent of Schools Michael Mostow discusses immigrants and illegal immigrants AND list of other people who give negative quotes about immigrants in the article. Please note that this article and these statements were made at school budget time, a contentious time for citizens when they feel burdened by decisions about high taxes, and when the school districts are supposed to face various forms of accountability from the public.

Beginning:

“With local school districts getting ready to unveil their proposed budgets for the 2007-8 academic year, some are expressing worry over and issue that they believe is causing school taxes to rise – illegal immigration.”

The next paragraph includes quotes attributed to Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael Mostow:

“The truth of the matter is it’s very costly, and we get no help from the state or federal government,” said Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael Mostow. “We’re not allowed to consider whether a child is here legally or not. We’re obligated to educate them, it doesn’t matter what their status is, that’s the law.”

Re: discussion that some people and public officials would like to see how many students are illegal, to show how much money the district is forced to spend on illegal student:

Michael Mostow is quoted as saying:

“We’re not allowed to release that kind of information,” said Mostow, adding that he is now requesting the landlord’s signature as part of the enrollment process. “We’re hoping that initiative will stop multiple families from living in one home.”

Please note: School districts are not allowed to require an affidavit from the landlord. But, many school districts have staff that will demand such an affidavit. Or, they have paperwork that either states or implies families that rent will need one. Because people who are poor may have tentative relations with the landlords, or may be renting a home that is “illegal” (not zoned properly by the landlord), renters often are afraid to provide that piece of documentation. So, some children who are eligible to go to school may be afraid to even apply, or their packets rejected.

In addition, it is a fact that school districts have and are allowed to have inspectors and investigators that can go to people’s homes and watch and videotape students to check on residency. By Mostow referring to multiple people living in a home as a problem, he is suggesting that when he sees that situation, he could send out investigators. I have heard a school superintendent from a nearby district state that if she sees too many people from the same house, she sends out an investigator. When people here stories like that, and don’t know what the consequences are, and are afraid of people watching their homes, they will be less likely to send their children to school. It create hostility between poor families and the schools.

Mostow complains about the cost that illegal immigrants make to his district. He quotes numbers and prices for ESL education as a complaint of the price of illegal immigration. From the story:

However, Mostow said the Patchogue-Medford School District is feeling the impact of illegal aliens coming into the system. Stating that his district’s population of 8,700 students includes approximately 1,800 immigrants “at varying levels,” Mostow said this number has jumped markedly over the past five years. “We went from 4% to 20%,” he said, noting that, due to federal law, he does not know for sure how many of these students are illegal aliens.

In terms of the price tag these numbers carry, Mostow has said that for the 2007-2008 school budget, the school district will have to add five new English as a Second Language teachers – jumping the numbers of ESL educators from 16 to 21 – as well as two bilingual teachers, to the roster. “Just for salaries and fringe benefits, that’s going to cost us [a total of] $1,768,000 [for all the ESL and bilingual teachers], Mostow stated. “That alone is almost a 2% increase in the budget.”

“After one year in the country, [ESL] students have to take an English language test, which brings [the school district’s overall] scores down,” Mostow said. “If you pull that population out, we’re doing very well.”

Please note that in this article, there are also quotes showing various levels of negativity towards immigrants and the need to educate illegal immigrants made by:
NYS State Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Wading River)
NYS State Assembly woman Pat Eddington (WF-Medford)
State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Selden)
Sachem School District Superintendent Charles Murphy
Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Coram)
Medford resident Arthur Francis
NYS Assemblyman Fred Thiele (R-Bridgehampton)

The full article will be posted at this web-site in the next couple of days. Or, e-mail me and I will send you a file: votewilder at yahoo dot com.

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